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Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
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Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry

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Environmental context. Nitrous acid (HONO) has long been recognized as an important atmospheric pollutant, with the reaction of HOSO + NO2 being a source of HONO. We explore the effects of an additional water or ammonia molecule on this reaction. Calculations show that the ammonia molecule has a more effective role than the water molecule in assisting the reaction.


Environmental context. Antimony is a toxic metalloid that is used in a wide range of modern technology applications and in medical treatments. The accelerating needs for antimony in various industrial applications has led to concerns about increased human and environmental exposure. This review provides a brief summary of the biological properties of antimony and its mechanisms of actions in cells.

EN16070Heteroagglomeration of nanosilver with colloidal SiO2 and clay

Sébastien Maillette, Caroline Peyrot, Tapas Purkait, Muhammad Iqbal, Jonathan G. C. Veinot and Kevin J. Wilkinson

Environmental context. The fate of nanomaterials in the environment is related to their colloidal stability. Although numerous studies have examined their homoagglomeration, their low concentration and the presence of high concentrations of natural particles implies that heteroagglomeration rather than homoagglomeration is likely to occur under natural conditions. In this paper, two state-of-the art analytical techniques were used to identify the conditions under which nanosilver was most likely to form heteroagglomerates in natural waters.

EN16019Parallel responses of human epidermal keratinocytes to inorganic SbIII and AsIII

Marjorie A. Phillips, Angela Cánovas, Pei-Wen Wu, Alma Islas-Trejo, Juan F. Medrano and Robert H. Rice

Environmental context. Increasing commercial use of antimony is raising its environmental presence and thus possible effects on humans and ecosystems. An important uncertainty is the risk that exposure poses for biological systems. The present work explores the similarity in response of human epidermal keratinocytes, a known target cell type, to antimony and arsenic, where deleterious consequences of exposure to the latter are better known.


Environmental context. Antimony and arsenic are toxic elements occurring naturally in the environment. We found that arsenic release to water from an unpolluted wetland soil is related to microbial reducing activity only, whereas antimony can still be released when this activity is inhibited, suggesting the involvement of additional processes. The findings show that microbial/non-microbial mechanisms control arsenic and antimony release and can thereby impact water quality at wetland outlets.

EN16049Carbon and nitrogen dynamics in decaying wood: paleoenvironmental implications

Romain Tramoy, Mathieu Sebilo, Thanh Thuy Nguyen Tu and Johann Schnyder

Environmental context. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes in terrestrial organic matter are widely used for reconstructing past environments, but organic matter is exposed to degradation as soon as it is deposited during what is called early diagenesis. This study explores the effects of this process on organic carbon and nitrogen isotopes, and concludes that it homogenises an environmental signal by integrating all their components. Thus, early diagenesis may not preclude paleoenvironmental reconstructions.

EN16039PEST-ORCHESTRA, a tool for optimising advanced ion-binding model parameters: derivation of NICA-Donnan model parameters for humic substances reactivity

Noémie Janot, José Paulo Pinheiro, Wander Gustavo Botero, Johannes C. L. Meeussen and Jan E. Groenenberg

Environmental context. The environmental behaviour of trace metals in soils and waters largely depends on the chemical form (speciation) of the metals. Speciation software programs combining models for the binding of metals to soil and sediment constituents are powerful tools in environmental risk assessment. This paper describes a new combination of speciation software with a fitting program to optimise geochemical model parameters that describes proton and metal binding to humic substances.

EN16112Vermiculite as efficient sorbent of CeIII and CeIV

Zdeněk Klika, Jana Seidlerová, Ivan Kolomazník and Marianna Hundáková

Environmental context. Cerium compounds belong among low- or moderate-toxicity substances. One of the best ways to prevent cerium toxicity is its fixation on phyllosilicates. This paper shows the different mechanisms of CeIII and CeIV uptake on vermiculite in neutral and acid aqueous solutions. The uptake of Ce IV on vermiculite by poorly extractable complexes seems to be a very effective way to capture cerium, especially from acidic aqueous solutions.


Environmental context. Eutrophication caused by excessive inputs of phosphorus is a prevalent global environmental problem. Reactive phosphorus released from sediments was measured by two new in situ passive sampling techniques capable of high-resolution measurements of phosphorus concentration. The methods provide the scientific evidence for solving the problems associated with deteriorating surface water quality.

EN16038Insights into natural organic matter and pesticide characterisation and distribution in the Rhone River

Danielle L. Slomberg, Patrick Ollivier, Olivier Radakovitch, Nicole Baran, Nicole Sani-Kast, Auguste Bruchet, Martin Scheringer and Jérôme Labille

Environmental context. Natural organic matter (NOM) present in natural surface waters is a known transport vector for environmental pollutants (e.g. pesticides, metals, nanoparticles), with both NOM concentration and composition influencing pollutant fate. Assessment of these NOM–pollutant interactions is crucial and thorough NOM characterisation of natural surface waters is thus warranted, accounting for spatial variation along the water source. The present work reports on the characterisation of Rhone River NOM molecular weight, polarity and composition, as well as distributions of various pesticides and metabolites along the river using different analytical techniques.


Environmental context. Scientific knowledge is continuously built up based on research results, and relies on their efficient and accurate dissemination. Using antimony as an example, a system is proposed that combines ease of access with focussed reviews while keeping track of all published work. This system, termed BUKI (Building Up Knowledge Initiative) is a collaborative approach based on the combination of a web-based platform and the elaboration of systematic reviews.


Environmental context. The environmental behaviour and toxicological effects of antimony depend strongly on the specific form of the element, and thus methods have been developed for measuring the various forms of antimony. These methods, applicable to quite clean samples, often fail when applied to more complex environmental samples. We discuss some of the pitfalls in determining environmental antimony forms and the resulting risk of getting the bigger picture wrong regarding antimony pollution.


Environmental context. Antimony enters the environment from tailings and mines but there are widely divergent statements about its mobility in the environment. This work addresses the question of mobility of Sb by a combination of mineralogical and geochemical studies.

EN16018A novel method to determine trimethylantimony concentrations in plant tissue

Adrien Mestrot, Ying Ji, Susan Tandy and Wolfgang Wilcke

Environmental context. Antimony enters the soil mostly through mining and shooting activities and can thereafter be taken up by plants. In the soil, antimony may undergo several transformations such as biomethylation, leading to the formation of trimethylantimony. Here, we measured for the first time the uptake and translocation of trimethylantimony in a plant using a new extraction and analysis method.


Environmental context. Why does antimony become mobile faster in shooting range soils than in laboratory settings? We used controlled experiments and found that increased salinity and the presence of lead (which occurs with antimony at shooting ranges because they are both used in bullets) accelerate the change of antimony to a form that moves more easily through the watershed. This work helps explain the behaviour of this important pollutant – antimony – in the environment.

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